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Gifted life is filled with challenges and misconceptions.
In this issue of A Word from GHF, we address the common fallacy that people with learning disabilities cannot be gifted, the growth of homeschooling in the gifted community, and how homeschooling can mean success for the gifted child.
We are also introducing a new feature by Susanne Thomas: text-to-video movies of our Dear GHF question. These animated shorts are fun to watch and easy to share!
Don't forget to look for the special "supporting-members-only" discount code to receive 25% off GPP books mentioned in this newsletter! And just in time for holiday shopping!
Read on to learn, laugh, and save!
Sarah J. Wilson
When my daughter was in school, one of her teachers told me that she was having trouble reading and should be tested for learning difficulties. A different teacher suggested nominating her for placement in the gifted program. We ended up homeschooling, but we’re still wondering—how can this be? Can she be both gifted and learning disabled?
Yes, she can! Many children who are gifted also have additional learning differences. The exact number of these "twice exceptional" children is unknown largely due to the newness of such a designation. It is, however, clearly a large proportion. When school districts offer gifted programming, they are generally designed for the children whose abilities are greater than the norm, yet are not so far apart from each other that they need significant support for what the school designates as "special needs." Children who do qualify for "special needs" programs are often put in a situation where the focus is on their difficulties, with little attention paid to their giftedness. This is frustrating to the child as well as to everyone around them. Had you left your daughter in school, you might have found yourself in the awkward position of negotiating between different aspects of her learning style. Children who are misidentified as exclusively gifted or special needs are more likely to develop behaviors which are unacceptable in any classroom situation. This leads to academic and emotional struggles for the child, distractions for the teacher and the other students on the classroom, and often a power struggle among the child, the teacher, the parents, and administrators. The needs of a "twice exceptional" child cannot be met by splitting her challenges in half and randomly assigning one half to one classroom and the other half to another. Somehow, the needs of the child must be met as a whole. As homeschoolers, you are not fettered by having to fit into predetermined program guidelines. The flexibility of independent learning will likely provide a more suitable learning environment for your daughter. Go, you!
Please look for our Dear GHF column and send in your questions to DearGHF@giftedhomeschoolers.org.
Dear GHF is answered by Corin Barsily Goodwin, Executive Director of GHF, and Mika Gustavson, LMFT.
Video by Susanne Thomas
Almost eight years ago, we published Lisa Rivero’s book, Creative Home Schooling: A Guide for Smart Families. It was the first real involvement by Great Potential Press (www.giftedbooks.com) in trying to reach parents who were homeschooling gifted children, and frankly we were apprehensive about whether there really was a sufficient demand for such a book. We have since learned that not only are parents hungry for such information, but also an increasing number of parents of gifted children seem to be turning to homeschooling. Since that time, we have published two more books by Lisa Rivero, A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens (recipient of a Gold Mom's Choice Award) and The Smart Teens’ Guide to Living with Intensity, both of which are being well received by homeschooling parents, as well as by other parents of gifted adolescents.
We published another book where parents described their dilemmas in making homeschooling choices: Infinity and Zebra Stripes, by Wendy Skinner. Wendy and her husband, like many GHF readers, tried a variety of educational options, including homeschooling as well as public, private, and parochial schools. Their story, as is true for many of you, is one of frequent frustration intermixed with great joy and relief, but one where interactions in the family are usually fast-changing.
It is clear that homeschooling continues to be a viable alternative for many gifted children and their parents, and sometimes is the only alternative that makes sense, and we strive to convey that message in the books we publish. We are impressed with how homeschooling groups, such as GHF, seem to be increasingly more organized and interconnected, which provides parents with more information and better resources. We recently discovered, for example, the Black Homeschoolers’ Network as we prepared to publish Bright, Talented, and Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners, a book by Dr. Joy Davis, which will be released in late December,
When I founded Great Potential Press many years ago, I wanted to publish books and DVDs that would be particularly helpful in guiding and supporting the special social and emotional needs of gifted children and their families. I am pleased that so many of these books are being valued by parents who are homeschooling their gifted children. We hope that we are making a difference in the lives of gifted children and their families.
James T. Webb, Ph.D.
Great Potential Press
As a supporting member of GHF, you can receive a 25% discount on any of the books mentioned in the above article. Simply enter the code GHF-10 when placing your order. Hurry! This special offer ends December 31, 2010.
What would you think if you were walking across a college campus and saw a 14-year-old heading to class? What would you think if you were the 14-year-old?
As that 14-year-old, I think college is one of the best things in my life.
My name is Madeline Goodwin. I have been homeschooled all my life, and am now in my second year of college.
For me, homeschooling means camping trips with my mom and brother; volunteering at the animal shelter and playing with the dogs and cuddling the kitties; volunteering at the science museum, helping guests, cutting out fliers and trimming the edges, and cleaning up messes at the craft table. It means hiking in our backyard with our neighbor’s dog and going places in the middle of the day all year round so we can avoid the crowds.
Homeschooling means that for science, I look at my surroundings and figure out how the different plants work together to make a stable ecosystem, or study the weather and learn how to predict the weather, or read about ways to survive in the wild and then learn how to do them myself. For history, it means I read and read and read and read and read, while for current events, I read the newspaper and the articles my mom posts on her Facebook page and the GHF Facebook page. For math, it means I type the problems in my workbook into a Google Doc, solve them by typing out the steps, and then write the answer in my workbook; and if I do not know how to solve the problem, I look for the explanation, then yell across the house or IM my mom if I need her help. Homeschooling means learning to read and speak Hebrew whenever I can find my workbook.
Homeschooling gives me control over my life and my future. If I want to go somewhere, we find a way to go there. If I want to learn something, then we buy books on the topic, or look it up online, or enroll in class on the subject. If I want to do something, then we find a way for me to do it. Homeschooling means I can, and do, stand up to bullies, whether they are bullying me, my brother, my friend, or some kid I have never seen before. I can choose what I want to learn, and how and when I want to learn it—for the most part, anyway. It means that I do a lot of learning in my pajamas.
Shortly before my 13th birthday, however, homeschooling was no longer enough in every subject. The classes I wanted to take were so advanced, the teachers would not let me in because I was too young. So my mom and I decided that part-time college was the next logical step.
I walked into the classroom the first day scared silly. I walked out with a huge grin on my face. I felt like a different person. I loved the classes. I am challenged, learning, and working toward my degree. I know what my goals are and am taking the steps to reach them. This is what homeschooling means to me.
Come see GHF Board members and Special Advisors live at one of this upcoming event:
16th Annual New England Conference on the Gifted & Talented / SENG 2010
Oct 21-23, 2010
GHF Speaker: Corin Barsily Goodwin with Lorel Shea
Social and Emotional Benefits of Homeschooling Gifted Children
For up-to-date event listings, please go to the GHF Events page.
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Basic Membership: $50 annually
1) Receive quarterly newsletter, A Word from GHF
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We reserve the right to determine if a program is relevant to GHF’s mission and membership.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to receive the special 25% discount on GPP books mentioned in this newsletter? Simply place your order through GPP for any or all of the books below, and enter the code "GHF-10" at checkout. Remember, this offer ends December 31, 2010, so place your order now!
October 2010 • Volume 1 • Issue 3